6 Coastal Drives to Take This Summer


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Is there anything better than a road trip? Top down, music blaring and all the gas station snacks you can eat. With hundreds of thousands of miles of coastline bypassing some of the most stunning terrain in the world, these U.S. coastal drives are worth a peek. And what better way to explore than in an RV or a tricked-out rig? From palm-tree lined shores to mountain-backed coast, these coastal road trips should make it onto your summer bucket list.

Coastal Route 1

Kennebunkport to Bar Harbor, Maine

Credit: Eric Urquhart/Shutterstock

This scenic coastal route runs the length of Maine's coastline from Bar Harbor in the north to Kennebunkport in the south. Winding through some of the most stunning scenery on the East Coast, this highway features staples like quaint New England towns, striking lighthouses, picturesque bays and beautiful beaches backed by rolling hills. While fall foliage draw many to the highway in the autumn, a summer along this route yields even more opportunities to enjoy its many attractions. Start in Acadia National Park where you can be the first to see the sun rise in the U.S. from the top of Cadillac Mountain. Stroll through the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland before pairing some fresh oysters with local wine in Damariscotta. Explore downtown Bath for a touch of history before continuing to the liquid delights of the Portland area, which brews everything from cider to kombucha.

Pacific Coast Highway

San Diego to San Francisco, California

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It's hard to beat Highway 1, better known as the Pacific Coast Highway. Passing through almost the entirety of the California coast, it's arguably the most famous coastal route in the U.S. In the 700 miles from San Diego to San Francisco, drivers pass stunning beaches, vibrant cities and sleepy beach towns, redwood forests and lazy wine country. Grab some breakfast tacos and watch the tide in San Diego before hopping in the car and beginning your journey north. Explore the Santa Monica pier or the quieter beaches in Malibu before strolling the historic streets of Santa Barbara. Sip wine in San Louis Obispo before entering Big Sur for some of the most scenic stretches of road in the country. Find hidden coves in Monterey, stop at the redwood pines for a day hike, before entering the Bay Area where you'll be tempted to extend your trip by several days to explore all that San Francisco has to offer.

Outer Banks

Corolla to Ocracoke Village, North Carolina

Credit: NikonShutterman/iStock

Winding along 114 miles of weathered beach towns and sand dunes, the Outer Banks of North Carolina offer plenty of southern charm for your next summer road trip. Cruise from Corolla to Ocracoke Village, admiring shorelines scattered with picturesque lighthouses overlooking barrier islands. This should be a lazy road trip that embraces stopping the car often to have a look around. Along the way, explore Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the rolling sand dunes of Jockey's Ridge State Park and the fields of Kitty Hawk where the Wright Brothers took their first flight.

Hana Coastline

Kahului to Hana, Maui, Hawaii

Credit: Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock

Maui's coastline is a collection of contrasting colors — black volcanic beaches separating azure blue ocean from emerald green vegetation. The winding 52-mile road that runs from Kahului to Hana is rife with stunning photo opps. Hugging cliff corners and rolling over bridges, you'll want to take your time both to enjoy the view and ensure your safety. Admire waterfalls and black sand beaches, state parks and roadside stands selling fresh fruit. End your trip in the charming town of Hana. With only 700 inhabitants, this quaint surf spot feels a world away from the tourist treads of the west coast.

Scenic Highway 30A

Grayton Beach to Rosemary Beach, Florida

Credit: Rotorhead 30A Productions/Shutterstock

The stretch of highway between Grayton Beach and Rosemary Beach might be short, but it has everything that makes Florida's Gulf coast so special. Silky white sand, sunny blue skies, and pastel-colored towns are the norm on this road trip, which spans the coast between Destin and Panama City Beach. Spending time in the adorable beach towns that line the freeway will help you stretch out this short trip to a full weekend filled with charming accommodations, beach views and tasty seafood.

Seward Highway

Anchorage to Seward, Alaska

Credit: Tomasz Wozniak/Shutterstock

Take the path less traveled on this oft-overlooked highway through sparkling Alaskan terrain. Don't rush this 127-mile drive — there's enough to see to fill an entire week if you want. Jump on in Anchorage, and follow the route as it snakes from sea to mountains to the sea again, crossing the Kenai Peninsula and ending in dreamy Resurrection Bay.  Activities include whale watching, glacier hiking and mountain town exploring.

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